tokyo. welcome to "newsline." here are some of the stories we're following this hour. japan's emperor and empress receive a warm welcome as they start a two-day visit to the pacific island nation of palau. the defense chiefs of japan and the u.s. have agreed to speed up a review of their defense cooperation guidelines. and a new terminal at narita
airport has opened for business. it's devoted exclusively to the needs of budget airlines. japan's emperor and empress are visiting pa law for the first time to remember a tragic period in history. the imperial couple will pay their respects to those who died in fierce fighting between japanese and u.s. forces. they chose to visit the pacific island nation to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of world war ii. emperor akihito and empress michiko touched down at palau international airport. they met the president and his wife. the couples enjoyed a welcoming ceremony and chatted in the vip room at the airport. the imperial couple's schedule includes a visit to a coral reef research center built with japan's assistance in palau's
largest town. and they'll attend a banquet in their honor. with the presidents and first ladies of micronesia and the marshall islands. the emperor and empress will also visit peleliu island the site of a fierce battle. more than 10,000 japanese soldiers and 1700 u.s. troops died in the fighting. the imperial couple will pay their respects at a memorial. palau was under japanese control for about 30 years after the first world war. the defense chiefs of japan and the u.s. have sat down for face-to-face talks on the two nation's security alliance. they've agreed to speed up a review of defense cooperation guidelines. and they've also found common ground on a number of separate issues. more from nhk world's mitsuko nishikawa. >> reporter: as a part of his first tour of asian countries since he took office in february, u.s. defense secretary ash carter decided to make japan
his first stop. after attending a ceremony at japan's self-defense forces carter entered formal talks with defense minister gen nakatani. the two spoke for more than an hour. bilateral defense cooperation guidelines have not been revised since 1997. nakatani says he's aiming to finalize a review of the guidelines by the end of the month. he says it's important to complete, because the security situation in the area has drastically changed. the two also spoke about the rizzing tension over the senkaku islands in the east china sea. japan controls the islands, and the government maintains they are a part of japan's territory. china and taiwan claim them. nakatani and carter both say they found common ground about the continuing intrusion of chinese government vessels into japan's waters in the area. >> translator: we agreed to
oppose any attempt to change the territorial status quo through force. >> i also reaffirmed president obama's july 2014 commitment to apply our security treaty to all areas under japanese administration. >> reporter: their talks also touched on a controversial issue. the current relocation plan of the u.s. marine corps futenma air station within okinawa prefecture. okinawa's local governor is pushing for the plan to be scrapped. he says people there are strongly opposed to it. and he insists moving the base within okinawa doesn't lessen the burden to those who live in the area. but nakatani said the government must push ahead with the relocation. >> translator: we have reconfirmed that the plan to relocate the base within okinawa is the only way to avoid continued usage of the current site.
>> reporter: american officials say they're concerned about the possibility of a delay, and they're urging their counterparts in tokyo to proceed with the plan. >> we appreciate prime minister abe's and the japanese government continued support for this important effort. >> reporter: both governments are expected to finish their review of the defense cooperation plan before japan/u.s. summit talks get under way in washington later this month. mitsuko nishikawa, nhk world, tokyo. high level officials from japan and the u.s. and south korea will meet next week in washington. they'll sit down to discuss north korea's nuclear and missile programs, and ways to ensure stability in northeast asia. akitaka saiki is japan's vice prime minister. he'll meet with u.s. deputy secretary of state antony blinken and south korea's first vis foreign minister cho tae-yong.
he's expected to help the two countries work toward reconciliation. saiki will also meet with senior u.s. officials to discuss a meeting between prime minister shinzo abe and president barack obama. the two leaders are scheduled to hold talks on april 28th. japan's central bank will continue its easy money policy in a bid to keep the economy going. gene otani is here with the latest. gene? >> well, the markets reacted but there were no surprises here. same as usual. policymakers at the bank of japan took a vote and were 8-1 in favor of maintaining the massive monetary easing program. the aim is to achieve a 2% inflation target. the board members wrapped up a two-day policy meeting on wednesday. they kept their assessment of the economy unchanged, saying a moderate recovery trend is continuing. the policymakers say private consumption, as a whole, has remained resilient, although recovery in some areas has been sluggish. they also cite steady
improvements in employment and income. boj officials add that exports and industrial production have been picking up. they predict a consumer price index will likely remain unchanged for the time being on a year-on-year basis due to the plunge in crude oil prices. even so they expect the cheaper energy to give a boost to japan's economy. along with wage hikes at some companies. after the policy meeting boj governor kuroda reiterated his firm belief that inflation target will be achieved. >> translator: i think the consumer price index will start to rise from this autumn, or later. >> kuroda added that if prices fail to move higher the boj would not hesitate to respond with policy adjustments. let's check how market players reacted to the boj's decision. tokyo stocks closed at their highest level in 15 years, approaching the key 20,000 mark.
the nikkei average closed up 0.76% at 19,789. investors bought shares an expectations of stronger corporate earnings. moving on to chinese markets the shanghai composite claimed 0.84% hitting another seven-year high. some investors sold shares to book profits after the index touched the key 4,000 level. in hong kong the hang seng index jumped 3.8% following upward momentum in shanghai was the biggest gain in more than three years. investment from mainland china reached the daily limit for the first time since the shanghai and hong kong trading link started last november. in other markets in the asia pacific region seoul's kospi was up 0.6% hitting a six-month high. sydney gained 0.59%. after australia's central bank announced yesterday that it will keep the key interest rate unchanged. indonesia was down by almost 0.7% snapping two days of gains. mcdonald's japan is
continuing to struggle in the wake of a series of food scandals. executives at the hamburger chain say sales marked their second biggest decline since the company was listed in 2001. they report a drop of 29.3% in march from a year earlier. it comes after a record fall of about 40% in january. it had marked mcdonald's' ninth consecutive month of double digit declines in sales. in july last year the company was found to be using expired meat from a chinese supplier. foreign objects were also discovered in its maleeals this year among a string of other incidents. mcdonald's japan president sarah casanova is scheduled to appear at a news conference next week. she plans to explain her strategy to win back customer trust. executives at the company behind the hello kitty character sanrio say data on thousands of its shareholders might have been leaked. they are promising to beef up
security and prevent a recurrence. the executives apologized after saying the breach may have involved personal information, including addresses and phone numbers. over 6200 people. a separate company that runs online services for sanrio shareholders was holding the data. the executives say they first found out about the leak on tuesday. that's when an e-mail advertising an investment scheme was sent to the address of a shareholder registered only with the service. they found that several other people received similar messages. sanrio has stopped the service and is investigating further. a government survey shows japanese people working in the service sector are feeling better about the economy. the economy watchers survey indicates the mood has brightened for the fourth straight month. officials at the cabinet office asked more than 2,000 workers each month about their views on the economy. the economy watchers index for
march stood at 52.2 up 2.1 points from a month earlier. cabinet officials cited the result to upgrade their economic assessment for the second straight month. they say a mild recovery is continuing. respondents in retail stores noticed a slight pickup in consumer activity. one worker credited higher share prices and wage hikes. and those at department stores reported that sales of imported high-end clothing and jewelry remain steady despite higher prices due to the weaker yen. the leading index that forecasts conditions a few months ahead also rose by 0.2 of a point to 53.4. but some respondents weren't so optimistic. they said they don't expect consumption to rise dramatically as small companies are unlikely to give pay rises and food and daily necessities are getting more expensive. transer account balance remained in the black for february for the eighth straight
month. a sharp rise in receipts of interest payments and dividends from overseas helped maintain the surplus. the current account balance is the broadest measure of trade and investment with the rest of the world. finance ministry officials say the surplus for february was about $12 billion. the country's trade deficit for the month stood at about $1.2 billion, although the figure shrank considerably from a year earlier. exports rose for the 24th month in a row due to robust auto exports to the u.s. imports fell from a year earlier, because of lower crude oil prices. the service account including overseas travel and cargo shipping logged a deficit but the figure shrank due to an increase in travelers to japan from china during the lunar new year holiday. returns on overseas investment made up for the shortfalls. the primary income account which measures how much the country earns from overseas investments had a surplus of about $15
billion. that's a record high for the month of february. and that's it for business news. i'll leave you with the markets. budget airlines flying in and out of narita airport now have a terminal to call their own. japanese low-cost carriers are hoping it will help them fly even higher. nhk world's daisuke azuma has the story.
>> reporter: it's the first new terminal at narita in more than 20 years. >> translator: i came to ride on the very first flight. >> reporter: the floor is color coded to make it ease yers for travelers to get around. it also reduces the need for electronic information boards. the operators held down building costs by making the ceilings lower than normal and leaving exhaust ducts uncovered. those savings allowed them to cut landing fees to about half of the other terminals. >> translator: there is a huge potential demand for low-cost carriers. i think i'll use them more than i do now. >> reporter: the first flight took off at 6:00 a.m. bound for sapporo. about 80% of all low-cost
flights at narita will use the new terminal. it offers service to a dozen cities in japan, and seven overseas including taipei and melbourne. some domestic airlines see an opportunity to grow their business. >> translator: as a low cost carrier, we'll offer reasonable prices so more people can use our service. we're looking to expand our international flights network in the future. >> reporter: budget carriers are expanding their operations around the world. they've captured more than half of southeast asian market and more than 40% of the market in europe. but in japan, the share is less than 7%. more people from southeast asia and china are visiting now that the visa requirements have been eased. narita's transformation is expected to have a positive
effect on the inbound flow of people into the country. attention is focused in the words of budget carriers will take off in japan. daisuke azuma, nhk world. thanks daisuke for that report. iraqi investigators have begun exhuming mass graves in the city of tikrit. they suspect they hold the remains of hundreds of government soldiers massacred by islamic state militants. forensic teams began unearthing the graves on monday. officials have identified more than 10 places they believe soldiers are buried. family members of missing military personnel laid flowers and lit candles. members of islamic state seized tikrit last june. they claim to have captured and killed 1700 soldiers. survivors say the militants shot soldiers and buried them on the spot. officials say most of the victims were shia muslims. the sunni militants regard them as their enemy. government forces retook tikrit last week after a month of
fighting. researchers in the u.s. have been looking at how americans and japanese view relations between their countries. they're findings suggest a deep level of mutual trust. the pew research center surveyed 1,000 citizens from each country. they found that 68% of u.s. respondents feel they can trust japan. compared to just 28% who said they can't. as for other east asian countries, 49% of americans polled say they trust south korea. 30% felt the same for china. the researchers asked about the atomic bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki. 56% of americans said they were justified. 34% said they were not. the majority of respondents in the u.s. 65 and over approved of the bombings.
but when they asked people aged 18 to 29 slightly less than half gave the same answer. the researchers found that 60% of americans think china's rise as a military and economic power makes u.s./japan relations more important. but when asked about economic ties, 43% of americans said china should be the focus. 36% said japan. >> americans are also very pragmatic about asia. and they know that china's a rising power and we have to deal with it. they don't trust china. but they also know that economically, we have to deal with china. >> the survey found that just 7% of japanese trust china. but three-quarters said they trust the united states. a crewman aboard one of the largest warships ever built has given himself a new mission. he worked on the flagship of
japan's combined fleet and is one of the few people to survive its sinking. he's now set out to make sure future generations never forget the history. nhk world has the story. >> reporter: the yamato sank in waters off southwestern japan in the closing days of world war ii. a memorial service was held on tuesday for victims. members were among those present. >> translator: many of my acquaintances died when the battleship sank.
if they were alive, they would have had families pursued various dreams and experienced hardships. the peace we enjoy today is founded on their sacrifice. >> reporter: the yamato was sunk on april 7th, 1945. it was sailing to okinawa to stop u.s. forces from landing. about 270 of the more than 3,300 crew members survived the attack. 7-year-old is one of the survivors. he joined yamato's crew when he was 17. at the time of the attack he was on duty on the bridge. he recalls the attacks by u.s. aircraft left the yamato
helpless in the water. after two hours of bombardment, the yamato listed sharply and exploded. it then sank to the bottom of the ocean. >> translator: people kept dying. without even uttering a word before my very eyes. >> reporter: yasugi drifted asea for four hours before he was rescued. he says after all these years, he still cannot forget the images of his dying companions. many of the other survivors of the yamato sinking have passed away. yasugi wants to hand down the story as one of its best storytellers. >> translator: many of those who died were in their teens or 20s. they died right in front of me. we should never do anything that
leads to the killing of people. it's just not right. >> reporter: yasugi holds lectures about his experience this november because of his health. but he's determined to continue conveying his message to others. >> translator: it's your turn to reflect on what peace really is. you should stand firm and make efforts for the future of japan. the future depends on you. >> reporter: even though the surviving yamato crew members are aging and the story is decreasing, they remain resolved to talk about the importance of peace. nhk world, kawashima. you're watching "newsline." i'm james tengan in tokyo.
from winter to spring now back to winter again, the weather in tokyo today caught a lot of people off guard in terms of clothes, as most people send their winter woollens to the cleaners by this time of year. sayaka mori from our weather desk has the details. >> yes, we will see a huge jump in temperature on thursday. so that's good news. but actually still on the bit chilly side. if you want real warmth wait until the weekend. now we saw sleet in tokyo. last time we saw spring sleet was five years ago. fukushima saw snow as well. i want to take you to video to show you the situation. gives you a beautiful combination of the wintry and spring scenes. people in central japan are surprised at the return of wintry weather. in fukushima prefecture eight centimeters of snow has fallen. temperatures were around zero degrees during the daytime hours. that's much lower than midwinter. now precipitation has let up in fukushima and temperatures will
rebound to more typical levels in the fukushima as we go through next couple of days. now, rain will be moving out from the can toekanto region on thursday so clear conditions but because a cold air mass is still blanketing many parts of japan, the korean peninsula and northern china temperatures are a couple degrees lower where they should be during this time of year. tokyo 13 degrees for the high. and shanghai 16 degrees on your friday. now down to palau, where the japanese royal family is visiting, april is actually kind of an end of the dry season so we may see some isolated showers. but typically, mostly dry as we go in to the weekend in palau with much higher -- quite high temperatures for you. now, further down to the southern hemisphere we are seeing severe weather happening over the coast of new south wales and victoria. we have report of hail in sydney. and also 70 millimeters of rain in canberra. that's much more than monthly rainfall for april for this time of year.
now the system is pulling away so conditions are actually easing. however, strong winds will continue in the sydney area into your thursday we still have warnings for strong winds posted into thursday in sydney. now across the americas we have a couple of storms. right here this system caused two tornadoes on tuesday in kansas. the system has weakened slightly. but it's still capable of producing thunderstorms for wide area. thunderstorms will be moving in to the new york and these area as we go in to wednesday. and across the west we have another system which caused beneficial rain and snow for california. the system is actually energizing by very warm air from the south and humid air from the south, dry air from the north, so we are expecting very significant weather event starting wednesday going into thursday. we're talking about the risks of thunderstorms, gusty winds, and also tornadoes for a wide area from the south into the great lakes region.
and because this is a slow-moving system conditions will not improve any time soon or rather spreading into a wider area as we go into thursday. so, please watch out for the severe weather. as we go in to thursday. temperatures are going to be extremely different between the north and the south. chicago only 5 degrees for the high. but just to the south, 28 degrees for the high in oklahoma city with windy conditions. and to the south, 28 degrees in houston, as well. and across the west in the teens for vancouver, seattle, as well as los angeles on your hump day. here's your extended forecast.
>> these are the headlines. the eu is still playing hardball with greece over its bailout. the greek prime minister goes to moscow for a high-profile trip with a vladimir putin. a white u.s. police man is charged with murder over the death of a black and. that is after amateur video shows the officer shooting the man in the back eight times as he is running away. and a bitter family feud at the heart of the french far right. current leader marine le pen tries to distance herself from her hard-line father and founder of the national